Comments: Google, Wikipedia - seeing RE-INTERMEDIATION in action!

Could we perhaps classify 're-intermediation by a publicly funded (free) computerised intermediary' as disintermediation?

After all, file-sharing has disintermediated producers of material for public distribution and the public who would have it distributed to them.

Certainly, folk are always wondering if they can slip in some advertising, if not control the distribution 'channel', but it seems pretty disintermediated to me.

The back channel needs disintermediating too, i.e. public funding of publicly owned works without going via a publisher. We'll get there.

Posted by Crosbie Fitch at October 20, 2008 08:54 AM

As I asked in the CT thread, do you have evidence on what would be at the top of Google searches if it weren't Wikipedia? It seems to that, in the cases I've seen, the effect of Wikipedia is
(1) to bump a lot of rubbish/promotional/quasispam links down one spot in the top 10, and make the top result an article that is at least adequate
(2) to bump the first worthwhile search result from, say, 25th to 26th.

Posted by John Quiggin at October 20, 2008 06:32 PM

John Quiggin: How would I prove what Google would look like if it made different weighting factor choices in its algorithm? All I can say is that it's not obvious at all that the result of removing the Wikipedia giant juice-sucker would be the same as the current ranking minus Wikipedia. That is, between the two possibilities:

1) Wikipedia sucks away the ranking and attention from better specialist results
2) There are no better specialist results, Wikipedia is really the best

Then both #1 and #2 could look the same - it wouldn't be that the specialist results are second, third etc. because the very hypothesis is that Wikipedia is taking away their attention and links - leaving only the rubbish/spam, because that has a different source of links/ranking.

Part of what I was trying to do at CT was pointing out that #1 is in fact plausible, given the repeated actions of people turning to Wikipedia as it's-a-good-quick-reference.

Posted by Seth Finkelstein at October 20, 2008 07:26 PM